Wednesday, 04 February 2009 23:37
The New Vision’s former Editor-in-Chief, Els De Temmerman, is set to return to the publication she quit four months ago, crying lack of editorial independence.
“I have been asked to return,” she said on Monday.
But sources in State House said that the Belgian lobbied to regain the job, even after her demand that the CEO, Robert Kabushenga, be removed was rejected.
She said that the “lack of editorial independence” which made her quit last year had been “addressed” and that she is only awaiting written commitment.
She added that she would not return to the state-owned daily if she did not get that commitment in writing.
Asked about De Temmerman’s impending return, Kabushenga said: “She is the one who resigned. It is up to her to decide what to do next.”
State House sources have told The Weekly Observer that De Temmerman discussed her woes with President Museveni during telephone conversations and at least in one meeting.
The Belgian journalist quit her job late last year following a burst up with Kabushenga over the coverage of President Museveni’s speeches on the front page of New Vision.
In her hastily written brief resignation letter, she said she was quitting because the editorial independence she had been promised on appointment was now missing.
President Museveni had expected New Vision to publish his speech during the Tripartite (SADC, COMESA and EAC) Summit at Speke Resort Munyonyo, but this didn’t happen.
A furious Museveni reportedly ordered Kabushenga the next day to publish his speech on the front page. The CEO reportedly communicated this order to De Temmerman, something that apparently infuriated her.
State House aides familiar with the matter have told The Weekly Observer that the Belgian prefers dealing with President Museveni and State House directly, without going through Kabushenga. She wants the President or any of his lieutenants with an editorial query about New Vision to raise it directly with her.
Museveni’s usual method of maintaining several contacts in a single organisation is what apparently unsettled her.
According to our State House sources, President Museveni has asked the board to consider her return. The New Vision board chaired by David Ssebabi of the Privatisation Unit is indeed expected to sit later this month over the matter. One of the sticking points is whether she must first withdraw her resignation letter, which she is reportedly reluctant to do.
State House sources have told The Weekly Observer that De Temmerman had wanted the CEO, Robert Kabushenga, to be removed as a condition for her return, but was rejected.
According to our sources in New Vision itself, De Temmerman’s imminent return is being viewed with apprehension.
“So, has the editorial independence she resigned over suddenly resurfaced,” asked one editorial member of staff.
The Belgian is reported to be well connected with NRM Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura and Chief of Defence Forces, Aronda Nyakairima, as her main god-fathers.
It is through such powerful men that she lobbied to meet the President to secure her return.
It is not the first time De Temmerman and Kabushenga are involved in a power struggle. They both worked at the Media Centre with Kabushenga as director and her as technical advisor.
Some sources claim that De Temmerman participated in the establishment of the Media Centre and yet felt sidelined when it came to running it. She eventually quit.
Both De Temmerman and Kabushenga were appointed to their positions at New Vision after the government relieved the paper’s long-serving Editor- in-Chief/CEO, William Pike.